About Mineral Sands

The mineral sands industry consists of two core product streams: titanium minerals (also referred to as titanium dioxide ore feedstocks or TiO2 ore feedstocks) and zircon. Titanium minerals (ilmenite, leucoxene and rutile) are generally far more prevalent in mineral sand ore bodies than zircon. The titanium dioxide content of the various titanium minerals varies markedly, from less than 50 per cent to over 95 per cent. Product classification is determined by titanium dioxide content, with ilmenite having the lowest titanium dioxide content and rutile the highest.

Titanium Minerals
Titanium minerals – ilmenite, leucoxene and rutile – are primarily used as feed stock for the production of titanium dioxide pigment, with a small percentage also used in titanium metal and fluxes for welding rods and wires. Titanium dioxide is the most widely used white pigment because of its non-toxicity, brightness and very high refractive index. It is an essential component of consumer products such as paint, plastics and paper.

Zircon has a range of end-uses, the largest of which is ceramic tiles, which accounts for more than 50 per cent of global zircon consumption. Milled zircon enables ceramic tile manufacturers to achieve brilliant opacity, whiteness and brightness in their products. Zircon’s unique properties include heat and wear resistance, stability, opacity, hardness and strength. These properties mean it is also sought after for other applications such as refractories, foundries and specialty chemicals.

The Kwale Mineral Sands Operations produces ilmenite, rutile and zircon